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Alex Rosenblat is particularly careful when it comes to her digital privacy. She requests to fill out paper forms instead of digital ones; she documents and tracks what she signs. But even her diligence can’t always save her. Rosenblat recently spent months retracing her digital steps after Phreesia, a company that collects demographic information, claimed to have her authorization to share her data — authorization she knew she hadn’t consented to.

“I was just very deeply offended that my privacy could be so easily violated,” Rosenblat said. “It was a moral outrage that inspired me to use my extremely limited hands free time away from my newborn and my toddler and everything else to pursue this.”


In this week’s episode of the “First Opinion Podcast,” Rosenblat talks to host and editor Torie Bosch about tracking down her own information and the amorphous harm caused by invasions of privacy.

Rosenblat is an ethnographic sociologist and the author of “Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work.” The conversation stems from her First Opinion, “I declined to share my medical data with advertisers at my doctor’s office. One company claimed otherwise.

Be sure to sign up for the weekly “First Opinion Podcast” on Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.


And if you have any feedback for us — First Opinion authors to feature on the podcast, kudos, or darts — email us at [email protected] and please put “podcast” in the subject line.

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